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SA aviation needs new niche markets - official

Oct 31 2014 12:13
Carin Smith
Flic en Flac – Competition is healthy and can only make the South African transport industry better, Zakhele Twala, deputy director general of the civil aviation division of the South African department of transport, said in Mauritius on Friday.

He was standing in for Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters at the 44th annual general assembly of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (Aasa) taking place in Mauritius.

“In order to be competitive we must identify new opportunities in niche markets, as aviation in Africa supports about seven million jobs,” said Twala.

“Yet most of aviation in Africa is still limited by closed aviation policies and there is still very little progress in the southern African region in this regard.”

Twala said South Africa has an open attitude and in his view governments in the region should fully liberalise their skies, but with high standards being applied.

He is also in favour of removing visa requirements in the southern African region for greater ease of movement.

“European airlines dominate the African skies on the European routes and they are even penetrating domestic markets in Africa via code sharing. So, of course it matters to us at the SA department of transport, who brings tourists to our shores and who benefits from it financially,” said Twala.

Another change Twala pointed to is the advent of low-cost carriers in the South African domestic market.

“It has not been easy for these carriers, but it seems they are doing better than full service ones. Good competition on pricing in the South African aviation industry will hopefully also start extending to those people who currently drive to their destinations and not fly. The message needs to be sent to them over and over again that they have these options of low-cost flying,” said Twala.

Lastly, Twala referred to the challenge Ebola is bringing for Africa. He cautioned the aviation industry to “keep a cool head”, while at the same time doing everything possible to combat the spread of the disease.

The impact of Ebola has even been felt at the Aasa conference as some delegates were not permitted to enter Mauritius, because they had recently visited certain African countries.

 - Fin24

southern africa  |  air travel  |  airlines

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